Paul’s Perspective – Part II

“The ‘people of God’ from Paul’s perspective were one people, not two.  In using the language of ‘family’[1] Paul clearly demonstrates that he considered the believing Gentile and Jew to be ‘one new man’ in the sense of both coming into the family of God.  Thus the ‘family of God’ for Paul was the elect people of God, a family that in the end would include the whole nation of Israel.  Nothing was further from the Apostle’s mind than that God had two peoples, one Jewish and the other Gentile.  No, God has always had only one people, Israel.  But from the perspective of the prophets, Paul understood that Israel was finally and ultimately comprised of the believing remnant in every generation and those elect Gentiles who had attached themselves to Israel via faith in the Messiah.  In the same way that Israel is defined as a ‘mixed multitude’ when she was redeemed from Egypt,[2] so the gathered body of Messiah was to be viewed as one redeemed people.

“Yet in spite of this ‘remnant theology,’ Paul cannot be accused of discounting those Jews who refused to accept Yeshua as Messiah as though they were not actually ‘Israel.’  On the contrary, Paul makes it clear that even while unbelieving Israel may be enemies to the gospel, she is yet precious to the Father.[3]  She still retains her position as God’s chosen nation in spite of her rejection of Messiah, for it is God’s plan to bring the nation to faith in the Messiah Yeshua.[4]  All that is required by current believers, then, is to trust in His sovereign plan for accomplishing the full redemption, and walk in humble obedience before their God.  Such obedience would foster a jealously in Israel that would turn her again to the God of Israel and thus to her Messiah.

“Far from teaching a ‘replacement theology,’ Paul taught a grafting-in theology, an expansion of Israel through the inclusion of the Gentiles.[5]  He does not set the ‘church’ against the synagogue, nor ‘Christian’ against Jew.  He does not see these categories as salvifically important.  In fact, when it comes to salvation, it makes not difference what nationality a person is: ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek….’[6]  Yet the existence of the elect nation is all-important, for God’s faithfulness is demonstrated by her existence.  What is more, her final acceptance of Yeshua as a nation will be the ultimate display of God’s sovereignty and the fulfillment of the New Covenant.[7]” (pgs. 128 – 129)

[1] Note Galatians 6:10 and Ephesians 2:19, where “household of faith” and “God’s household” describe the gathered congregation of believers. [footnote 279 in book]

[2] Exodus 12:38 [footnote 280 in book]

[3] Romans 11:28 [footnote 281 in book]

[4] Romans 11:25-26 [footnote 282 in book]

[5] On the whole issue of “replacement theology” and its rise in the 2nd and 3rd Century Church, see Ronald E. Diporse, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought (Instituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2000). [footnote 283 in book]

[6] Galatians 2:28 [footnote 284 in book]

[7] Jeremiah 31:31ff.  Note carefully that the fulfillment of the New Covenant is national in its scope (“house of Judah and house of Israel”). [footnote 285 in book]

Published in: on 7 PMpTue, 14 Jun 2011 19:47:33 -040047Tuesday 2016 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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